In which city would you launch a small crossover designed for the modern urban explorer? Seattle, of course, the vibrant city that offers an array of experiences from underground grunge to Pike Place Market to the Amazon Spheres!
And that’s where we found ourselves after Lexus for a preview of its all-new 2019 UX in the fastest-growing compact SUV segment. The urban-centric ride will be available in two trims: the front-wheel drive UX200 with a 2.0-liter 4- cylinder engine putting out 169 horsepower @ 6600 rpm and 151 pounds-feet of torque @ 4800 rpm; or the all-wheel drive UX250h gas/electric hybrid with a 2.0-liter developing a total of 181 horsepower @ 6000 rpm. The former is mated to a 10-speed direct-shift auto gear box and the latter gets a continuous variable transmission. The UX250h employs a four-cylinder gas engine, two electric motors and a 216-volt nickel metal hydride battery. At higher speeds, power comes primarily from the gasoline engine. During deceleration and braking, the vehicle uses regenerative braking to apply much of the wasted energy toward recharging the hybrid battery.
Standard bi-LED headlights and daytime running lights flank a massive three-dimensional mesh spindle grille to give the UX a muscular stance. Attention to detail is apparent in the cabin with its three-spoke steering wheel, dual auto a/c, 8-way power front seats, six speakers and four USB ports, 60/40 rear fold seat, wireless phone charger and Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay integration. A mouse-like Remote Touch enables the driver to toggle navigation, climate, audio and phone controls, which are displayed on a 7-inch or the optional 10.3-inch screen, next to the familiar analog clock. Passenger volume is at 90.4 and trunk space at 21.7 cubic feet, which is OK for a compact SUV. Add $2,000 for each trim if you would like the sporty F Sport trim, which includes a sport-tuned suspension, perforated leather shifter and heated steering wheel, F Sport grille, front/rear bumpers, 8- inch display screen and more.
Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, front knee airbags, vehicle stability and traction controls, three-point seat belts for all, front/rear crumple zones and side-impact beams, rearview camera, four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard. Also, the Lexus Safety Sense + 2.0 fetches you a pre-collision system that detects pedestrians, lane departure alert and lane tracing assist, dynamic cruise control and intelligent high beams at no cost.
Starting at $32,000 for the UX200 and $34,000 for the UX250h, this Urban + X-over (crossover) is a purposeful vehicle with no compromises. Rivals such as the BWW X1 and Audi Q3 now have plenty of catching up to do with this immensely pleasant and rewarding ride.